Sophomore forward George Tinsley took the America East (AE) by storm as a freshman. He was named the AE Rookie of the Year, becoming the second consecutive Bearcat to win the award, and was the leading scorer among all rookies in the conference last season. With the 6-foot-6-inch forward heading into his sophomore year, Tinsley is looking to be a leader for BU as it strives to compete in the AE.

“I’ve got to be more of a leader on the court,” Tinsley said. “Last year I was a freshman and sat back a little bit. This year, I’ve got to take more of a leadership role and lead this team.”

With the departure of Binghamton’s leading scorer guard Sam Sessoms, Tinsley acknowledges that he will be increasingly relied upon to lead this Bearcat team. Last season, Tinsley ranked second in the entire nation in minutes logged, averaging 38:23 minutes per game.

Tinsley learned several key lessons from Sessoms, who was named AE Rookie of the Year in 2019. Tinsley commended his competitive spirit and his sheer will to win games.

“[Sessoms] brought [a lot of] toughness to practice,” Tinsley said. “Some guys like to talk trash but you [cannot] get in this kid’s head. He’s mentally tough and he’s not really going to break easy.”

Additionally, Tinsley believes that he has become a better basketball player on the court, particularly on the defensive side of the ball from competing with Sessoms in practice. Last season, Sessoms was the leading scorer in the AE.

“[Sessoms] helped me out a lot defensively, [because] of having the chance to guard an offensive player like that [in practice],” Tinsley said.

Prior to entering Binghamton his freshman year, Tinsley was a dual athlete, playing both football and basketball from a young age. As a high school football player, he was ranked as a top-50 quarterback in Pennsylvania by PennLive. However, there was never a question about whether Tinsley planned on pursuing basketball.

“From a young age, I was playing football and basketball,” Tinsley said. “Then I kind of quit football for a little bit. Basketball took over my heart. I loved the sport. From around seventh grade, I knew basketball was my thing.”

Despite leading all rookies in the AE in scoring last season, Tinsley considers his game to resemble NBA player Alex Caruso for his hustling abilities and sheer effort for the game.

“The way he hustles, I admire that,” Tinsley said. “It’s nice to see someone diving on the ground and he’s the first person to the ball every time.”

Tinsley’s hustling abilities were reflected in his rebounding numbers, averaging 7.4 rebounds per game last season and ranking second overall in the AE. Despite winning this award, Tinsley remains determined to stay on top of his game and improve on the court for this upcoming season.

“I was honored and obviously [celebrated] a little bit,” Tinsley said. “But you know, at a certain point, you kind of have to be like, [this is a] new season [so] now the whole league knows who you are and you’re going to have to come out with something new.”

Though Tinsley’s desire is to improve individually, his biggest goal remains to win the AE.

“We all got to have one goal,” Tinsley said. “It needs to be the same thing. We all got to play our part [and] chip in. That’s what winning teams do. I think we are already starting to get there. This goal of ours needs to be to win the America East.”

Throughout the practices thus far during this unconventional offseason, Tinsley has been more than impressed by the dedication and work ethic of his teammates.

“This group right here, we’re really dedicated and hardworking,” Tinsley said. “We’re clicking together now. It’s looking really good for us.”

After participating in an abbreviated nonconference season early in December, the Bearcats are set to begin conference play against SUNY rivals Stony Brook on Dec. 19. Despite Binghamton beating the Seawolves in two of their last three matchups, including a playoff upset in 2019, Stony Brook will present a significant challenge for BU.

“Both of us are [going] to have a hunger,” Tinsley said. “I think it’s going to be a good game [and] both teams are going to go at it.”